Sandra Fluke of California became the latest high-profile foot soldier from Democrats’ “war on women” campaign to announce a bid for office Wednesday, saying she will seek a state Senate seat.
Ms. Fluke, who became the face of Democrats’ birth control campaign, joins Wendy Davis, the state legislator whose failed filibuster to try to halt that state’s abortion restrictions last year served as the springboard for her bid for Texas governor.
Democrats also are fielding pro-choice women — Michelle Nunn and Alison Lundergan Grimes — in the Senate races in Georgia and Kentucky, which are thought to be the party’s best chances of picking up Republican-controlled seats in the upper chamber.
Republican strategist Ford O’Connell said these well-known female candidates could help Democrats gin up their base as they face tough political headwinds.
“With Obamacare and everything else against them, they are going to turn back to the same old playbook that they have used to make elector gains in previous years, which is the war on women, hate the poor and despite minorities,” Mr. O’Connell said. “They have to focus on social issues because that is the only way they can gin up the base, because right now in the midterms Republicans have an electoral advantage.”
In 2012, Ms. Fluke, then a Georgetown Law School student, became the face of Democrats’ push for mandatory insurance coverage of contraception in Obamacare. After testifying on Capitol Hill about her inability to get birth control on the Catholic university’s student health care plan, talk-show host Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut.” He later apologized.
The Democratic activist and lawyer reportedly had been thinking of making a bid for Congress, but said Wednesday that she instead will pursue a state Senate seat.
“Today I have announced that I am running for California State Senate,” she posted, right above a picture of her and President Obama. “I hope you will continue to stand with me and fight!”
The seat represents part of Los Angeles County. It is held by Ted Lieu, who is running for the seat of retiring Rep. Henry A. Waxman, a fellow Democrat.
Democrats campaigning in 2012 argued that Republicans were waging a war against women, and Mr. Obama rode that message to a re-election victory of GOP nominee Mitt Romney, capturing 55 percent of the female vote, according to exit polls.
Since then, the GOP has tried to push back by tapping a woman to deliver the official party response to Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address and making an effort to talk about how their policies would affect women.
Republican lawmakers are pushing a bill that would ban most abortions nationwide after 20 weeks of pregnancy — a proposal that pro-lifers claim resonates with the majority of the nation and could put pro-choice candidates — like Ms. Davis and Ms. Fluke — on the defensive.
Last month, the Republican National Committee also passed a resolution urging their candidates to stand their ground on pro-life issues and speak out against abortion.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, though, seemed to muddy that message when, at the same RNC meeting, he said Democrats want women to believe they are helpless without “Uncle Sugar” covering the costs of birth control because they “cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government.”
Ms. Fluke responded in a Newsweek op-ed, saying “we are not looking for a handout from ‘Uncle Sugar’ to score a contraceptive fix.”
“Offensive statements like Huckabee’s keep popping up because they aren’t slips of the tongue,” she said. “They reflect a profound disrespect for women’s right to determine their own health care choices and their family’s economic future.”